Peak 3,625ft
Peak 4,408ft P300
Peak 4,067ft P300
Peak 4,406ft P300
Peak 3,997ft
Peak 3,945ft P300
Peak 3,307ft
Peak 4,340ft P300

Tue, Jan 12, 2021
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I was happy to be able to return to the desert for another extended trip after the previous one earlier in the month. Friends would be joining me at the weekend, giving me four days on my own. My first order of business was a return to the Cady Mountains for a go at some peaks around the range highpoint that Karl and I had no time for on that earlier trip. It turned out to be an ambitious day, about 12mi with almost 5,000ft of gain. The terrain was a key factor, as the cross-country travel seemed particularly easy with a network of sand/gravel washes that helped make the long stretches go quickly. A more ambitious adventure would add Cady Peak, the nearby range highpoint that I'd climbed 11yrs earlier. I was happy to work around it today.

I'd spent the night camped off SR58 west of Barstow. This allowed me a stop in town for gas and Starbucks before heading east on Interstate 40 for the Cady Mtns. My exit was Hector Rd, leading about a mile north to the defunct rail station of Hector. The road going over the tracks was gated and locked on both sides, apparently only available for use by utility trucks that can't go through the low underpasses found half a mile on either side of Hector Rd. I didn't know about these underpasses ahead of time, but after finding the unexpected gates, I got out my phone and did some quick surveying of the satellite views to find my way to the other side of tracks. For some reason, this large range is devoid of any Wilderness areas, leaving a surprising number of OHV roads leading into the range on all sides. The particular road I followed this morning goes up a sandy wash into the highest reaches of the range from the southwest, getting me to an elevation over 3,800ft, saving much time hiking from the desert floor. I stopped halfway on my drive up the wash for a climb of the first summit, Peak 3,625ft. It's only about 1/3mi north of the wash, and about 600ft up. Back at the Jeep, I continued on the BLM road up the wash to its end in a small culvert. I would hike the rest of the peaks from here.

With one exception, none of the day's scrambling was harder than easy class 3, and with only minor deviations, I'm sure it could all have been kept to class 2. My original plan was to do the five closest peaks in a smaller loop of less than 5mi. These are the 2nd-6th highest summits in the range. The two nearest where I parked had registers. Peak 4,406ft had one by unknown forces, "The scallywags and doc" left in 2015, most of their entries unreadable from being bleached in the sun. Peak 4,340ft had a small plastic bottle with a Smatko party register from 1981, an almost 40yr gap until my arrival. I left registers on three of the other peaks that had more than 300ft of prominence, expecting them to see even fewer visitors. It was only after I had reached the 4th summit, Peak 3,997ft that I thought about adding the two much further south, Peak 3,945ft and Peak 3,307ft. Both of these are more easily reached via a powerline road to the south, the same most folks use to reach Cady Peak. Peak 3,307ft is very close to a telecom installation just to the south with a good road leading to it. Since I had the time and energy, I decided to save some driving and do more walking instead, visiting the two summits with a 6mi+ addition to my original loop. Peak 4,340ft was the last summit in the loop, located directly south and above where I'd parked the Jeep. I took a fairly direct line down from the summit that involved a short bit of class 3-4 scrambling, finally finishing up after 4p.

It would be after sunset before I managed to drive back down to the Interstate, having showered along the way with the last rays of the afternoon sun. I drove back to Barstow for dinner and to top off the gas tank before heading out on Interstate 15 for the Soda Mtns...


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